In a unique program, student pilots are teamed up with private pilots to mentor them as they work towards their own private pilot's license. This program was started through an EAA chapter in Midland, Michigan, and currently has two pairs of budding student pilots and private pilots working together.
Justin Bentsen is one of the student pilots who has been paired with a private pilot, and his instructor, Linda Langrill, is providing ground instruction through Barstow Municipal Airport and Delta college. Bentsen's mentor is Tom Tolton who has been a pilot since 1976. Tolton has been working with the young student pilot on fundamental skills in preparation for his cross-country flight. This is one of the flights the student must make with his instructor before soloing. Bentsen's cross country trip will be to Cadillac, Michigan and back. His mentor, Tom Tolton, said that the student pilot should be able to read a map, understand fuel consumption, understand the weather and be aware of the wind. It is a long process to get a private pilot's license and most student pilots take between 40 and 45 hours of flight training before gaining their private pilot's license. Each student pilot must pass a written exam, a medical exam and a flight test. Bentsen is planning on becoming an aeronautical engineer and Tolton is building his own airplane in his garage. Instructor Langrill said that getting a pilot's license at any age is a major accomplishment which brings a lot of self-esteem, and gives students several career opportunities including being a commercial pilot or even a military pilot. Langrill said Bentsen has an enthusiasm to fly and passion for everything aeronautical. She said Tolton and Bentsen are kindred spirits. When Bentsen gets his private pilot's license he plans to go on to get an instrument and commercial pilot's license. Asked what he will do first when he gets his private pilot's license Bentsen said he plans to fly to Mackinac Island, and then cross country to visit his grandmother, his aunt and then other relatives. What a wonderful way to encourage youngsters to get involved in aviation, and to share a hobby which will last a lifetime. Until next time keep your wings straight and level Hersch! JetAviator7 The way I see it, you can either work for a living or you can fly airplanes. Me, I'd rather fly. — Len Morgan